Life can feel pretty uncertain at times. You think you’re going to get the job promotion and then it falls through. We think the pandemic is settling down and then the numbers go up. Perhaps one day everything seems fine with your child and then you realize there are some hidden struggles going on below the surface. One day your health is fine, the next you receive an unexpected diagnosis. How do we, as followers of Jesus, remain steadfast and confident in an ever-changing and uncertain world?
In Psalm 27, David wrote this profound declaration: “I will remain confident of this; I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27:13-14). Things in David’s world were often uncertain. He had to wait many years to become king while Saul chased him and threatened his life. Often David spent time hiding in caves. Talk about uncertain! Yet, David learned how to nestle down in God’s unchanging character and passionately praise Him. How do we learn to do the same so that when life comes crashing in, our confidence remains strong?
As I’ve been thinking about this and talking with friends whose lives have been turned upside down by unexpected circumstances, I’ve noticed 3 practices that seem to sustain people for the long haul of life.
3 Practices to Remain Confident
Patience. Everyone I know who has remained confident over the long haul of life’s ups and downs has learned the secret of waiting on God. They’ve given up impulsivity in favor of waiting for discernment. Often when uncertain life circumstances blindside us, we do the first thing we think of. Instead, God invites us to wait on Him. What does this mean? It means we press into His presence and wait for direction from Him. We create the space in our schedules to spend extended time with Him, seeking Him in prayer. We linger and enjoy until He gives strength. This may sound passive, but it’s not. It’s the disciplined action of remaining in the presence of the Lord until He speaks. As we wait for Him to speak, the very action of being in His presence strengthens us for the journey ahead (Isaiah 30:18).
Perseverance. The second practice I’ve observed in those who have had a steady walk with God through the years is that they don’t quit. They persevere until God shows them otherwise. They continue praying even when the circumstances appear hopeless. They continue giving even when it looks like their finances are running dry. They continue pressing towards the dream God put in their heart until God says otherwise. David knew God had anointed him to be king. During the long years while Saul was chasing him, David authentically cried out to God, “How long?” (Psalm 13:1). However, he kept the dream in his heart, waiting on God to reveal when and how the dream would be realized. He didn’t take the easy way out and quit. He didn’t take matters into his own hands and kill Saul so he could become king. He waited and persevered in doing what was right. In our culture, we are often tempted to quit when the struggle gets too hard. I believe God is calling us to greater depths of persistence. He is strengthening us as we wait and persevere in prayer and seeking the Lord. God will honor our persistence in His time.
Praise. The people who remain confident over the long haul are those who have learned the secret of gratitude. They consistently thank God for every gift. It’s not that they’re inauthentic, it’s that they acknowledge the hard things but choose to thank God for the blessings in their lives. We see this consistently in David’s life. He cries out to the LORD authentically, at times pleading and crying before God. But then he shifts his focus to the goodness and loving-kindness of God and worships Him. We see this in Psalm 28; David starts by crying out, “To You LORD I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit” (Psalm 28:1). As David continues his song, he shifts his focus from the darkness of his circumstances to the goodness of God, praising Him with these words: “Praise be to the LORD, for He has heard my cry for mercy” (Psalm 28:6). Likely nothing in David’s life had changed between verse 1 and verse 6. However, David’s focus had changed, and he praised God, having faith that God was listening and He would act on his behalf in His time. Ah, this is such a profound key to remaining confident. We must choose to praise God in advance for what He will do – even before we see it!
Friend, I know these are uncertain days. Many of you have written to me sharing particular struggles. Be assured, God is listening to your prayers! Be patient, wait in God’s presence. Persevere, keep praying! And Praise God even before He acts on your behalf!
If you’re starting your Christmas shopping, Psalms for the Anxious Heart makes a great little gift for friends and neighbors!